Clinton to have open-heart surgery after chest pains

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The Independent US

Bill Clinton was admitted to hospital in New York yesterday suffering from chest pains, and the former US president has been scheduled to undergo heart bypass surgery today.

Bill Clinton was admitted to hospital in New York yesterday suffering from chest pains, and the former US president has been scheduled to undergo heart bypass surgery today.

A statement from his office said: "Mr Clinton went to Northern Westchester Hospital yesterday afternoon after experiencing mild chest pain and shortness of breath. Initial testing was normal and he spent the night at home in nearby Chappaqua, New York. After undergoing additional testing this morning at Westchester Medical Centre, doctors advised he should undergo bypass surgery."

Friends of Mr Clinton reported that in recent days he had been complaining that he felt tired and could not explain why. He agreed with his doctors to seek hospital treatment when he also began to experience discomfort in his chest. He has just returned to the US from a four-day visit with his wife to Ireland.

Early indications suggested that the former president, who checked himself into the hospital yesterday morning voluntarily, may be given a quadruple bypass to open blocked arteries. While the mortality rate for such procedures for otherwise healthy patients is low, it is a serious operation.

During his eight years in the White House until the end of 2000, Mr Clinton consistently received good marks in his regular medical check-ups, with low cholesterol scores. He sometimes admitted to being overweight, but in recent months he has visibly lost pounds in weight, in part by following the South Beach Diet.

This has been a busy year for the former president, however, following a rigorous promotional tour in the US and abroad since his memoir, My Life, was published two months ago. But he has also found time for relaxation, including a day's golf on the Doonbeg links in County Clare a week ago.

On his return to the US, Mr Clinton, who was 58 last month, delivered a major speech at the Riverside Church in Manhattan on Sunday. He had promised Senator John Kerry, the Democratic presidential runner, to work hard over the next two months to help the campaign against President George Bush. Cardiac surgery now would almost certainly bar him from making any such contribution on the campaign trail.

Today's surgery is likely to last for several hours and the patient will almost certainly remain in intensive care for a few days before being allowed to return home. Mr Clinton's wife, Hillary, and their daughter, Chelsea, are expected to be at the hospital for the operation.

The Clintons had been scheduled to make a two-day campaigning trip on behalf of Mr Kerry this weekend. Mr Kerry, campaigning in Ohio, sent Mr Clinton "our best wishes, our prayers, our thoughts," and asked supporters to give him a cheer he would hear "all the way to New York".

His successor, President George Bush, said: "We send him our best wishes for a swift and speedy recovery."

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